Tuesday, October 6, 2009 12:43 PM

Hierarchy in the Multi-Cat Household

When our three cats were very young, I watched with interest many things about them, but particularly the evolution of the Top Cat. With two males and one female, I knew that it was an almost certainty that one of the males would win the contest. For a while, though, Little Girl put up quite a battle for dominance. They all would tussle, hold another down on his/her backs etc. and Little actually looked like the front runner for a while. But, almost overnight, she gave up. This happened early on, probably around 10 or 12 weeks. Secretly, I was rooting for her, though I was sure it was not to be!

Next, I put my money on Goldie. Marmalade toms, I knew, were often tough guys (I had one as a kid), so I figured he'd lord it over the Black Bear eventually, especially since Bear had a health scare early on. Again, it was not to be. Maybe it was because I babied the heck out of him while he was sick, but Bear came out from behind to be the Big Guy, as he still is, 12 years later. I guess it's lucky that I never became a bookie!

Bear works every day to keep his station. When another cat is sitting or sleeping on an area that he decides he wants, he harasses them out of it. We make sure no fighting erupts (it usually doesn't), but nothing will stop him getting what he wants, so we don't interfere. We do interfere, however, when he wallops Little Girl until she yells, since this is what he must do to keep her "his". He gets locked down cellar for 15-20 minutes, which cools his jets and gives her a chance to calm down. We can't prevent this from happening every now and then; we can only control it somewhat, keeping anyone from getting hurt. The Top Cat gets the girl, as it were, and he needs to let her (and any other cats) know once in a while that this will never change.

As far as Goldie is concerned, he's a bit more assertive than he used to be, but he's still a softie. The boys will "box", usually in the evening, just so Bear can stay on top of his game. He always wins, even though we never let it get too far along. Goldie knows who is still the boss, and harmony reigns.

Movie of the Week: This is a British miniseries, actually, called "Fortysomething", starring Hugh Laurie. It's based on a novel by Nigel Williams and it is really funny. If you're a fan of Jeeves and Wooster, you'll notice Laurie channelling Bertie a bit here, which is what he does best. Don't miss it!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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